Please visit our home site at

Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Extending WAYWARD: Presurgical Notes

       T40x8                                                                        T32x8

Longer is better on this planet, Buddy!
-- Apologies to Tony Rice, who said 'Louder is better...'

Extending WAYWARD: Presurgical Notes

"Why don't we just lengthen WAYWARD?", my two sailing partners ask, "and add an aft cabin?"

That is to say, just add an extra 6 to 8ft cabin at the end of the hull.

I harrumph and blow. Hem and haw.

Well, the aft bottom curve would have to move aft, where it would really be too short on the new length. The labor-intensive, flush-deck cockpit would have to be removed for an aft cabin, and a new one built for the new mid-cockpit. Balances would be all wrong. The sail plan would have to be redesigned from the ground up.

I sputter and bluster.

In short, it seems durn hard to radically alter a fully integrated design. All the things that once worked together are thrown out of synergistic balance. The structural challenges are daunting.

Hmm. But...

Could we save the aft deck by cutting away below the upper line of the doubling plates, which then act as horizontal buttstraps for filler construction? If the aft cabin followed the old transom line, we could even keep the seats and corner posts, which would now butt up against the aft cabin face.


New construction - presumably a weaker attachment - would only be cantilevered 8ft vs 16ft... mechanical fasteners to back up glue. Rubrails and doubling plates span the join, and can augment structural tie-in and support.

I suppose that, if the aft curve had to be rebuilt anyway, a longer, easier (faster) curve can be built along the extra length. Of course, a fuller belly would help float the cabin and any extra gear we're likely to be accumulating with a third partner... more doodles to come.

And hey... if we duplicate the main at the mizzen location, a balanced cat-schooner or -ketch emerges, possibly abetted by a yawl driver dead aft. It looks not only balanced, but rather powerful.

Rudder and scull... well... the rudder gains leverage with greater distance from the CLR (Center of Lateral Resistance), so we could keep the lower blade. A taller upper would have to be made, but that's a simple piece. Probably steer a cabin-top tiller by wheel or whipstaff? The scull actually benefits from a lower fulcrum and correspondingly steeper angle.

The OCBs (Off-Center Boards) are already 'traveling'... we can merely set them a bit further aft to balance.

The final sails have yet to be built, anyway. All the investment in WAYWARD, inside and out, from the companionway bulkhead forward, would remain, with the cockpit deck, seat and hatches thrown in for 'free'.

And the clincher? We could pull this off with a fraction of the time, effort and $$ necessary for building a whole new boat.

It... Could... WORK!!!
(Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein)

Extra Credit for Boat Geeks

This diagram shows the cut-lines... breaks indicate lines which will be hidden filler pieces. Here's the likely de/con-struction order:
  • The aft bottom curve would be cut away and aft doublers removed (doublers add hull thickness below the long, low horizontal line) to vertical line under Pilot House. 
  • A horizontal cut is made below the top of the doubler line until it runs off the curve.
  • A fill piece is added, below that cut-line and carried aft to 8ft fwd of the new transom.
  • A triangular fill piece makes up above the lower filler (Payson butt above doubler?).
  • The aft cabin walls and transom are framed and built (Payson butts and mechanical to old transom?).
  • The new bottom curve is built.
  • Doublers are added, buttstrapping the pieces they cover.
  • Decks and details are added.
  • Rudder and other gear mounted.
  • Finish and go.

Not shown are rubrails and any other longitudinal stiffeners we may toss in for good measure. Will see how the glue and mechanical bonding 'feels' as we go. May augment with some tape n glue. Copper would be removed first and reinstalled last.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter Birds

By Shel Silverstien

Winter Birds

Autumn is a time of visible transition.

Verdant leaves funk or flame before skurriling to ground. Seawater clears, revealing empty depths where lately salmon swam and swarmed. Birds write their winged cuniforms across the lonely sky.

People, too, flow southward in search of sun. Or, with a hint of irony, snow. Those on the water, especially, if not driven by some economic necessity, leave the long straights and stretches to we few weird-birds who haunt them at the dark of the year.

But we're in good company!

We have a special place in our hearts for the birds who stay on... ravens, crows and eagles, owls, loons, herons, kingfishers, duck of several species, juncos, thrushes, ousels, gulls and cormorants. Geese and swans make their appearances, too, often lingering long. There are little brown birds whose names I don't know, working the bush for seed and the tideline for buglings.

I take special pleasure in watching them revel in winter, right through its sterner moments. They wash and preen and fluff themselves against the cold, chattering and flirting it up. As if this were paradise. As if they were born and bred for it.

It's true that nature extends her cold claw this time of year, culling the exhausted, the inattentive, the unlucky or those whose genes have bet the wrong way. Toes to the fire, I wonder at their thoughts through the long, boreal nights of rain and snow and darkness. But those who remain feed each day to keep the fires burning within their breasts.

And come spring again, their young hatch out into the waxing day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pop Up Tents

Commercial Pop Up TentsFrom springwire... toss in the air to unfurl

Live in the sunshine
Swim the sea
Drink the wild air
-- Emerson

Pop-Up Tents

Most of the barge/scow hulls in the world have wide open decks, with hatches as needed. Why? Cheap and flexible.

Most of the yachts in the world have fixed, trunk cabins as superstructure with fixed, furnished interiors. Why? Um. Well... at a guess? Tradition? Laziness? We're all wannabee ocean crossers? Harder to say.

Trunk cabins and furniture break up the open spaces and limit our options. True, they don't have to be set up at the end of a long day. Or in the rain. Or in the dark. In our boats, we've always chosen this style, but only after a good deal of waffling.

Of course, a mix is always an option. Just because we're designing box barges doesn't mean we have to stay in the box!  An aft trunk cabin, say, with the whole forward deck flush and extensible is entirely possible.

So let's take a look at open deck, flexi-space architecture, extended by pop-up tents. Here, I'll present three types I find especially attractive.

Hatch Cover Tent

This approach, shown on my T24x4,6,8 SANDBOX design, simply tilts the midships hatch up, then puts a custom fabric shell over it. The flap, shown, ties to the gallows to provide a vestibule of sorts.

The idea is to work with existing hatches, using the covers as structure for the fabric shell, and the hatch coamings as landingss for it. One could cant the hatch cover, as shown, split it in two for side walls, or raise it at both ends for a more horizontal roof.

Supporting struts for the hatch require a little ingenuity, but nothing others haven't solved for us, time and again.

Pram Style Tents
This one from check 'em out!

Pram style tents have hoops that go to a common point, and rotate around that point. They can be fully or partially erected for anywhere from stowed flat to full coverage.

Hoops don't have to be round, as shown here... they can be more or less squared off to clear rectangular hatches when stowed (with maybe a little arc on the upper edge for rain shedding).

These have been used on boats very successfully for small hatch openings (JESTER pram hoods by 'Blondie' Hasler and Scott McCleod), and for large, open spaces (TIKI tents by James Wharram).

Advantages are quick and easy set-up, many intermediate positions and fold-flat for low windage.

Lightweight Emergency Shelter
by Patrick Wharram
This third approach is by Patrick Wharram (no known relation to James Wharram). It's superficially similar to the pram approach, but the lower hoops do not go to a common point. This allows a longer run than is possible with the pram.

Alongside a hatch, a pair of tracks can guide slides at the bottom of the hoop Vees. This can be extruded aluminum or DIY wood T- or C- track. Like the pram style tent, this can be erected fully or partially, depending on conditions. Again, hoops can be squared off if desired.

Framed Structures on WATERPOD
Note fabric biminies and domes on framed structures

Here we see a fairly complex set of frames that spread fabrics along over the decks of WATERPOD. These can range from very simple to very complex (the actual build sports a geodesic dome!).

Frames can be multi-purposed to provide security for the crew, mount solar panels and other gear, even support rigging. Fabric can be stretched over set frames in different ways, depending on conditions.

Here's another example... a fishing boat from Lago Maggiore, Italy:

Trailer Style Pop-Ups

An intriguing option, especially for boxy hulls, are types that fold up and out of the box. They can be either hard topped or soft:

Hard Top

Soft Top

Note that platforms can be folded outward (possibly from under the hardtop hatch). They can fold fore and aft, and/or outboard. If outboard, consider inflatable flotation under their open position, where necessary. Windage will be high!


So lots of options, not to mention just setting up a regular old tent on the flat deck.

Pop up tents can be tailored to the weather... open and airy in the heat. Cozy and insulated in the cold and wet. They may be aided and abetted by pop up or inflatable furniture - chairs, loveseats, tables, bunks and shelving - all deployed and arranged for the needs of the day.

Flexible spaces for changing needs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ambiguous Uncertainty. Adaptability. Stillness in Transition.

Ambiguous Uncertainty. 
Stillness in Transition.
-- Chinese qualities associated with SLACKTIDE

Greetings, Friends... I apologize for my abrupt disappearance! Two deceased computers and a minimal internet access point pretty much put the world on read-only status.

We have substantially completed WAYWARD ex T32x8 LUNA, and are now sailed to our winter caretaking gig in Baranof Warmsprings Bay. Her split junk rig is a prototype, which checked out this summer... we'll be building final sails this winter.

However, there's been a substantial change in our lives.

We've taken on a new cruising partner, Casey Phillips. For various reasons, neither his boat (S/V BRISK) nor ours are suitable for the three of us, so we'll likely be building again in a way that can accommodate our new 'footprint'. Quick and dirty, this time, but with better on-board internet access and geared for older age cruising. Down the road.

Thank you for your interest in Triloboats and our lives on the water. I'll definitely be writing more this winter, and hope not to drop out like that again!

Fair winds,

Dave, Anke and Casey

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Good Knife, Bad Knife

Our Knives currently in service On Board and at the Work Site

Son, when ya gotcher bollocks snarled o' the mainsheets, 'tis no time to be fumblin' in yer pocket fer a knife!
-- Old Salt Advocating a Sheath Knife in Characteristically Declarative Form

Good Knife, Bad Knife

The Good Knife has been a boon to our species since the first flint was napped. A keen edge and stout blade have been the sailor's friend since the first line was spliced. To a boatwright, it's the first tool in hand and the last to be set aside.

Its edge is the stuff of legend... forged in the fires of Vulcan hisself, it must only be sharpened on stones quarried by the full moon, using potent unguents, trigonometries and incantations. It's virtue must be guarded against the coarseness of base matter and the corruption of oxidation. Purified and preserved, it may be drawn in the day of need to slay the Dragon.


Hyperbole aside, a Good Knife can mark, slice, part, shave and – in a pinch – perform minor surgery. Its virtues and minutia are compared and contrasted down to the least degree. It's design and creation are the hallmarks of art and mastery.

But the BAD Knife... who has sung its praises? What sailor hath come forth to speak on its behalf? Plenty with high standards come forth to diss it. Life's too short, and all that. Well, here once again, to give voice to the down-trodden...

Since my early days as a sea-faring wood-butcher, I've carried two knives on my belt. One is a Good Knife, and the other Bad.

The Bad Knife, as you might expect, handles the dirty work. You know... scraping paint, cleaning fouled screw threads, cutting cardboard patterns, excavating a fastener, paring wood of dubious provenance, cutting down to a metal backstop, working around glue, a cautious bit of prying, working where a bump or slip will send it to Davey Jone's... in short, 99% of the jobs around the water.

The Bad Knife is the jack-of-all-trades. Johnny-on-the-spot. The tool at hand that saves you that return trip up and out of the bilge, down a ladder to rummage through the toolbox for that specialized tool that claim to do a momentary job a mere fraction of a bit better. The Bad Knife sneers at all those sissified tools populating those glossy catalogues. Sniggers at that prissy Good Knife, come to that.

It's got to be cheap. One step up from disposable. If possible, bought in quantity. If you don't run through them, so much the better. If you do, a Zen/Amazon non-attachment is a fine thing (AmaZen?).

It needs to be able to take a reasonable edge without putting too much time into it. Zip, zap and git 'er did. If it takes more than five minutes to restore the edge, it's too hard, and treading on the Good Knife's territory. Forget about removing minor nicks and notches. If it has to be sharpened more than once a week (barring the occasional, kamikaze mission), it's too soft.

Or thereabouts... your call. Point is, its steel must be bad enough to abuse, but not so bad it's useless. Where those endpoints lie is up to you.

A thickish blade is fine, in theory, as we'll want to beat on it, often with a hammer or axe. But we're most of us sailing small boats, so we won't be parting giant hawsers. Unless we want to chop the mast down with our blade, a thin-ish one will do. A little less than 1/8th inch (3mm) has been plenty for all I've ever asked of them.

For the Bad Knife, I've personally come to like full-tang, drop-tip style, without handle cheeks and no serration. This type lies flat and unobtrusive as possible... easier to wear without hanging up on every durn thing, and to stow several cheek-on-jowl If it comes with a paracord wrap, I don't take it off, but if not, I don't add it. All things being equal, a simple handle is cheaper without the extra materials and labor costs.

Two blades of a single make can be used, one designated as Good, the other Bad. In this case, I'd err on the side of better steel. I can live with abusing a hard edge, but not with abuse from a soft one! Seriously, a dull blade is dangerous... we're looking for one that can stand up reasonably well to insult and injury.

Ironically, the humble sheath merits more mention than it generally receives.

Personally, I like to make one sheath to fit my standard Good Knife, Bad Knife and marlinespike. I like one sheathed inboard and riding a bit high; the other outboard and a bit lower... enough difference that I can pull my choice by feel alone. In-line works okay, too, with relatively slender blades. I like the marlinespike aft. All three snugly fit to expose only enough 'hook' to get a good finger grip on it. If one has handle cheeks, it goes outboard. If the handle has no hook at its handle end, I like to add one (don't care for lanyards which hang up).

I like to wear it just aft of my hip blade on the strong arm side. Not so far back I sit on it, but far enough that it doesn't get between me and my hip when I'm working on my side. This is more comfortable, and I can still access it from behind. A stiff belt and loop help keep it in place and from flopping.

In practice... I'm between custom sheaths at the prolonged moment, making do with the wretched contraptions contrapted by those who sell the knives. They're just tolerable enough to keep replacing them off any given day's priority. But that's no praise at all.

Any knife with a bad sheath is at best compromised; at worst dangerous.

* * * * *

A Few Bargain Knives

All the knives listed here are inexpensive. 'Gooder' knives can be had, but they cost enough that you would NOT want to lose one overboard. Remember, too... the harder the steel, the more time and trouble spent attaining and maintaining its edge in mixed use!

(Frost) Mora – From Mora Sweden, this line includes mostly Sloyd pattern knives (drop tip on a slender profile; good shape for carving and general) with a narrow, full-length tang. Made for carving, hunting and the fishing industry. Models with laminated blades are exceptional, with a very hard layer sandwiched between two softer layers. This takes a great edge... it is therefore somewhat brittle. The softer layers support the blade as a whole.

Mora knives were once dirt cheap... no longer, but still a bargain. The laminated blades, especially, put a top-of-the-line edge in our hands for cheap (about US$25 as I write). Blanks are often available, but can cost as much or more than the finished knife. Their sheaths vary, but I don't care for any they provide.

The laminated Mora in the leading picture is my Good Knife of choice..

Old Hickory and Ontario – These and similar are generally sold as kitchen knives, and some of their paring knives come in handy sizes with full tang. Larger styles can be treated as blanks to shape your own. Relatively inexpensive and made with high-carbon steel, they can handle most jobs with ease. No sheaths.

Opinel – A French shepherd's knife, these are inexpensive, locking folders (Anke likes them; they're a little bulky for my taste). High carbon steel for a good edge, but the lack of any tang leaves them a shade delicate.

Schrade OLD TIMER Barlow – This is a folding knife well-made to a pattern that combines a general purpose blade with a carving blade in a compact, pocket-friendly shape. It sells cheap enough (about US$15 as I write... cheaper at other vendors) that we get extras as first-knife gifts for children whose parents deem them ready. My only quibble is that they don't have locking blades (nor do any other Barlows I've seen).

For boat-work, it handles the fine end of things that a bigger knife finds clumsy.

US Custom Design SURVIVOR – Dedicated Bad Knife... easily takes an okay edge but won't hold it long. These run about US$7.00 and come in several styles including drop-point (shown) and tanto. The style shown carries a full-thickness back 2/3rds of its length... this takes more abuse than styes which taper the whole length. I file the sharp corners and - if I get around to it - I'll grind off those finger guards. But quite usable as is.

Tiny print declares them to be “hand forged in China”, but 'forged' is stretching it. Cheap Chinese goods can vary wildly in quality, but so far, the batch we got is just about right. Webbing sheath... works. but barely.

Knives of this sort abound, and I did some spelunking around before I found this brand. Nothing too special about them. But be aware that many of these cheap-o's tend to dull at the first swipe. If you find a make that has okay steel, it probably pays to stick with it until a tried-and-true replacement is found.

Good Knife Wanted – What I'd like to find is a moderately priced, laminated steel blade that was a near companion to the SURVIVOR pattern (shown above) and flat-blade style. I'd settle for decent steel with middling qualities, buy two, and use one for Good and the other Bad. If the set came with a marlinspike and a well-thought-out sheath... well... one can only dream.

Like so many things in life, DIY is usually the only way to get exactly what we want at a price we can afford.

Bonus Tip:

We often need to scrape away paint to glue this or that in place.

Fastest method I've found is to draw the contact outline. Use the knife point dragged at right angles to the blade, diagonally across the grain, closely spaced. Cross-hatch the other way. This disrupts the integrity of the paint/primer film. It can now be scraped or sliced away with relative ease.

Bad Knife, of course.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

If Everyone Did That

Endless Suburbia
by Niko Niko

from JPG Magazine

Thank you, gentlemen. 

If you noticed, everyone started off with their own stride, their own pace. Mr. Pitts, taking his time. He knew he'll get there one day. Mr. Cameron, you could see him thinking, "Is this right? It might be right. It might be right. I know that. Maybe not. I don't know." Mr. Overstreet, driven by deeper force. Yes. We know that. All right. Now, I didn't bring them up here to ridicule them. I brought them up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. Now, those of you -- I see the look in your eyes like, "I would've walked differently." Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, "That's bad." Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Now, I want you to find your own walk right now. Your own way of striding, pacing. Any direction. Anything you want. Whether it's proud, whether it's silly, anything. 

Gentlemen, the courtyard is yours.

-- Mr. Keating to his students from Dead Poet's Society

If Everyone Did That...

If you are thinking of-, embarking upon- or engaged in a life anywhere to the side of the Main Stream, someone has likely harrumphed and said, “If everyone did that...”.

The simple act of disgorging this elliptical sentence fragment is meant to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of that. Whatever that is.

That is to differ.

Should 'everyone', it is implied, differ as you do, Civilization would collapse. No one would grow food (say those who have never worked a farm). No one would produce (say those who 'manage'). No one would create (say those who consume).

Though you might well earn your living, pay your way (stay out of debt) and must needs be creative in your entire approach to an 'under'-documented lifestyle, the way you differ is felt to be somehow subversive and/or parasitic.

Ironically, to stand out from the crowd is an urge that can seem obsessive. These same folks tend to produce, buy or sell soap in one form or another. But a fine mansion, yacht or car; fashionable pursuits, attire and tastes; a partner who reflects well... these comprise the 'standard of living' which we challenge by stepping a bit away.

The less of our life comes in some, off-the-shelf package, the greater the challenge. To ourselves, but also to them.

And how do we differ? After all, we're not talking nihilism or even cannibalism.

We live at or near the fringes of society. Consume less. Spend proportionally less of our lives developing purchasing power. Pay proportionally fewer taxes. A little more of our labor is physical, self-directed and unpaid. Not all that different, really.

There is the issue of play. We get more of it, and it shows. We don't have to work for the money to spend on vacation, and we can well afford the time. Living as and where one likes, why would one vacate? Go visitin'? Travel? Sure. But vacation? No, thanks.

Turn it around... what would happen if everyone did as everyone does? WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Can't say that business-as-usual looks too good from here to the side.

What would happen if everyone did as we do?

My guess is, the Market would adjust, and maybe even settle down to a 'real' economy. Most of us would be happier and healthier. Good times rather than (an endless parade of) nice things.

The Planet and all who live on it would breathe a little easier.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rant and Roar: The Problem of Purity

We'll rant and we'll roar, like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar, all across the salt sea...
-- British Sea Chanty

Rant and Roar: The Problem of Purity

Jerome 'Jay' FitzGerald is one of the sailors I very much respect, albeit across quite a gulf of attitude and approach.

Jay makes a case for 'pure' sailing vessels in fierce terms. While some are affronted, I confess to enjoying a passionate and provocative rant. He challenges me to review my own choices, ever a worthwhile venture.

For him, a vessel with a motor is not a sailboat, but rather a sail assisted powerboat.

In his Wind and Tide: An Introduction to Cruising in Pure Sailing Craft, he writes (his emphasis):
...Without the engine, had they encountered [a] hundred feet of contrary current and not been able to deal with it – even after a thousand miles, they still would have failed to make port. Properly, then, their [dependence on power] ratio should be expressed as 100% power-assisted sail, as they would have been helpless without the engine. It is important to note that in any activity that is judged by its completion, a 1% failure means a 100% failure... Let us be 100% sailors...
Strong words, and a stirring call to develop the full range of a sailor's skills for the safety and sheer joy they afford. In his writings, he shares many of those skills, and further elaborates on his themes.

I find it instructive to examine why it is that his position is not my own, despite that I'm a passionate advocate of wind-and-muscle cruising.

There is the matter of purity. I'm allergic to the notion. Purity seems to me a questionable gradient.

Which is more pure? A fiberglass or plywood hull? How about one made of timbers 'harvested' from a forest? A sail of dacron or of Egyptian cotton? How about if I grow, spin and weave the cloth? A bronze or galvanized fitting? How 'bout I make my own from drift teak? Am I pure, yet?

I'm unlikely to personally participate in any production aspect of the wholesale form of these items. None come without environmental cost. Sure, some more than others, but purity is hardly the standard in cost/benefit analysis.

In Jay's argument, “a hundred feet of contrary current”, insurmountable to the impure sailor absent engine assist, marks a 'failed voyage'.

Thing is, being thwarted within spitting distance of harbor happens frequently to us 'pure sailors'. It happens to Jay. More skill and a more able boat, the less often is all. The voyage takes another turn and takes a while longer... it may not end until that port is eventually made, but neither has it failed.

If ya survive, ya think ya had a good time!

Similarly, where Jay argues the superior aesthetics of engine-free sailing, I sympathize, but recognize personal preferences. He argues the character building virtues of adversity. Me? I go out of my way to avoid 'em!

Jay eloquently argues that pure sail is cheaper, simpler, and safer than having a motor. Now he's talkin'! Here I have no qualms or quibbles. It's not that hundred feet of contrary current that's the problem; it's the motor quitting in the jaws at port's entrance, with all sail stowed on a dark and stormy night. We'd never be there without faith in our engine.

So I find myself rather pragmatic than pure.

Sifting through the fun of a good rant, I agree that engines can slow the learning curve and substitute for skill. I agree that the aesthetic and challenge of sail can be quashed by the motor. I agree that they can tempt one into situations beyond our engine-less abilities and quit, abandoning us to fate.

They can and often do.

But we each of us face the sea with our own set of values, abilities, proclivities and context. One sailor may advise another, but we must each steer our own course, sailing a thousand choices. Ultimately, our choices, intersect with the sea and determine the voyage. Caution's a virtue, no matter how we roll. We learn as we go, usually via whatever set of hard knocks we've arranged for ourselves.

And fair winds to us all!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A First Look at Vertical Sculling Oars

The downward edge is the leading edge.
Note upward bend at the inboard end.
Atsushi Doi''s I-Scull from his US Patent
The downward edge is the leading edge.
Note upward bend at the inboard end.
In recent versions, the handle pin has been moved to the upper side.

In a fishtail gleam
 She leans to kiss me as she goes...
-- From The King of Britain's Daughter(?) byGillian Clarke

A First Look at Vertical Sculling Oars

The Chinese Yuloh and similar Japanese Ryo are horizontal blade sculling systems. The blade follows a 'falling leaf' pattern, angling across the sweep and switching leading edges at the end of each stroke, and kicking up a little turbulent 'fuss' at each switch.

Atsushi Doi, Douglas Martin and others have been taking a good look at vertical blade sculling systems.

The blade is still swept to and fro, but the forward edge always leads, with less fuss at the switch (especially once moving forward). This otherwise wasted energy is, in theory, availlable to generate thrust.

A second refinement is that the relatively high aspect ratio blade (long for its height) is not only allowed, but encouraged to twist, much as might a propeller blade. This has positive, hydrodynamic effects (laminar effects discussed here). In part, water is turned and tossed aftward... increasing its equal and opposite thrust forward.

In Douglas Martin's oar, shown above, the slender tip is hooked aft of the blade's Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR). As the blade is pushed sideways (albeit at an angle) through the water, it resists and twists the flexible end of the blade, causing it to lag behind the plane of the main blade.

Atsushi Doi gets a similar effect via a small fin attached low on the blade. Not nearly as pretty, in my opinion, but is powerful, removable and allows easy experimentation.

Atsushi Doi's Ve-Scull Fin

In a yuloh/ryo, the inboard end of the loom bends downward (or the mechanical equivalent). A lanyard led from this end to deck torques the loom outboard over the top, helping its horizontal blade to reverse.

 In a Atsushi/Martin oar, the inboard end of the loom bends upward. A lanyard led from this end to deck torques the loom inboard over the top, helping the leading edge reverse.

If all goes according to theory, the same thrust should be developed with less effort than horizontal blades, or more thrust with the same effort.

As a bonus, the vertical blade system appears much easier to use than yuloh/ryos (which can be challenging for  beginners). The video beow shows a monkey flinging down the gauntlet by using one of Atsuhi Doi's oars on the first go! 

So I'm jazzed!


There is considerable interest in these (including my own), and information is beginning to fill in. Most of it is for small craft, but there is now at least one video available for larger craft (relevant section comes after a bit).

Be aware that Atsushi Doi has patented several of his approaches to vertical blade sculling oars. While DIY is allowed, commercially interested persons should be aware of his intellectual rights.


Atsushi Doi's Pages (translated and hosted in English)
Reprint from Small Boat Journal... note 'sculling aid' toward bottom.
YouTube, image and web searches using such phrases as "atsushi doi scull" and "vertical blade scull"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fussin', Fightin' and Working It Out

Calvin and Susie
by Bill Watterson

Now we may fuss and we may fight,
But it ain't like that all the time.
I love her and she loves me...
  Oh my goodness!
    Oh my Gawd!
      Oh my Ruby Pearl!

-- From Ruby Pearl by the Hackensaw Boys

Fussin', Fightin' and Working It Out

Anke and I are quickly approaching that age where folks ask, what's your secret? Old couples most always answer, never go to sleep mad.

In fact, folks have asked us all along the way. Why? Because we live together pretty much round the clock (a very young friend thought both of our names was Davanke),  in itty bitty spaces and build / work on / sail boats. Any one of these can spell deep trouble for a relationship.

We do fuss and we do fight, but it ain't like that all the time.

It doesn't feel like a secret. We just like each other. Okay, we like each other a lot! The rest is easy. But we do have a toolkit.

When we fight, we don't fight hurtful; no blame or tearing down.
We work from good to gooder, and avoid right/wrong, too much/little, good/bad; no disappointment.
We work to get back to talking, rather than fighting;
We work to please both of us; Win-win rather than winner-loser, even for a single round.
We always try to remember we're loved; it never comes in question.

'I' statements help; 'When this happens I feel this or that', rather than 'you make me feel this or that'. 'I feel' this or that rather than 'you are or do this or that'. More accurate and feels better. Takes bite and blame out of expressing or hearing about strong emotions.

Okay, bear with me on this one. We call them false if-thens. They are of the form:

If you do, say, believe, think A, then you must believe, think B.

Sounds logical, right? Logical and outrageous! B is totally offensive and unacceptable! A fight ensues.

Most always wrong. The if-then connection is false - A does not imply B. Once that's sorted out, turns out there is no outrage, no offense. Almost always a perfectly acceptable something else that had nothing to do with that connection. No foul, no problem.

Go through enough rounds of offense taken/offense defused, and it becomes clear that those if-thens are suspect in the extreme.

The most untrue if-then of 'em all? If we fuss 'n fight, then we must not love each other. BS. Obviously.

Fussin' and fightin' don't seem inevitable. It feels like something we're growing out of. We learn that the other is never disappointed, that we have their esteem. We learn to give enough slack that connection is easy. We learn that the other always, always, always has our satisfaction and well being at heart. Always.

Oh, yeah. Never go to sleep mad. That old standby is good advice.But if for some reason you have to, table it and make a date to talk it out at the next opportunity.

So kiss and make up!


Friday, February 3, 2017


WaterLines for a Box Barge / Scow


Mostly, in boats, we hear about THE waterline. Where the water is, right? It's a clear picture, held in common by most everyone.

But there are all kinds:
  • A waterline -- A closed line formed along the intersection of a hull and the surface of water.
  • The waterline -- Mostly what you'd think... where the water surface actually touches the hull. Or sometimes the painted stripe that's supposed to mark where it usually is.
  • Design WaterLine (DWL) -- Waterline where the designer thinks it should be. That implies the boat loaded with all its outfit and crew should float right to there. Any more weight sinks it lower (raises the waterline), while any less floats it higher (lowers the waterline). For any given hull, the DWL determines its designed draft, displacement and freeboard.
  • Upright WaterLine (WL) -- The waterline while the boat is sitting upright. A designer draws this in end and profile views as the DWL. In either view, it looks like a straight, horizontal line.
  • Heeled WaterLine -- The waterline when the boat is heeled. A designer might draw this in end view as the maximum allowable heel. It looks like a straight, canted line.
There's more, but that's plenty for our purposes.

Designers of 'Curvy Dogs have it rough. They need calculus or planimeters and other advanced figgerin'. Poor saps! Designers of Square Boats have it easy.

Once you've decided your draft, the Rule-of-Thumb method - shown in the lead illustration - works well enough to answer important questions.

Simply draw the end view, split as shown or one for each end. Draw the upright WaterLine and the vertical midline. Now draw angled lines running through one chine and the intersection of water- and mid-line, and carry out beyond hull.

Now check your transoms, paying attention to their lower, outboard corners.We're trying to avoid plowing the bow and dragging the stern. All four corners should clear the heeled waterlines. By a fair margin at the bow and as low as you can stand aft. Dragging a small V aft probably won't hurt much, and the lower the better for an easy release.

If you have an outboard motor considered its placement for depth when heeled. If leeboard guards, see that they clear on the high side. It's convenient to place their undersides at the top of the heeled WL, so you have a visual check for maximum heel.

Okay, pin a medal on yourself. You passed this course!



Looking at the immersed triangles when heeled, we can see right off that the hull is quite stable at this angle, and still has some margin of safety.

But once the windward chine leaves the water (starts to 'fly'), the situation changes rapidly!

Do NOT sail with the chine clear of the water!!! Turn up and reef down, instead.

Hear that? We do not sail them chine a-flying or lee rail under. Not unless you're racing in a drysuit!

Square boats get an undeserved bad reputation as unstable. Let's compare to a dory of the same overall beam, which has an undeserved reputation for stability*.

What happens is that the dory goes over soon, but with slowly increasing resistance. By the time it's on its ear, the crew is feeling tippy and works to correct before knock-down.

The square boat goes over late, and feels rock solid till past our maximum. Once that chine comes out of the water, though - shortly after that chine goes flying - there is a rapid reduction of resistance to knock-down. The crew has little time to correct from that point.

Another folly; often the dory will have high sides (it needs them), while a square punt will not (doesn't need them). Bubba wants to show off by standing on the rail. Might make it in the dory. Puts the punt rail under. Apples to oranges.

At all points, the square hull has more stability than an otherwise equivalent hull with cutaway shape. It is the speed of the transition which catches the unwary. Knowing this, we act early to stay on the safe side of the flying chine. Meanwhile, we harvest all the advantages of that extra stability.

In cruiser size, you've got to work to put them over!

For solid analysis by a real naval architect on a nearly square boat, see Spray: The Ultimate Cruising Boat by Bruce Roberts. See especially his discussion of stability.

*Not to say the dory is a bad hull. On the contrary, designed to fit its purpose and well handled, it is versatile and able... a whopping great hull form. It's reputation for stability confuses less, late acting reserve buoyancy with stability. In fact, dories knock down easier than most. This is why their sail rigs, if any, are prudently kept low and small, OR they are built with an extra large dose of ballast stability (e.g., Benford Dories).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Many Hands Make Light Work

I shall build... THe ARK!
Heard it's gonna rain.

We cannot do with more than four
To give a hand to each.
-- From The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

Many Hands Make Light Work

Maybe I should be satisfied with two arms, hands and opposable thumbs. But most days it just doesn't seem enough - even with a bucket of clamps to back us up.

So here's a few ways to give ourselves a hand.

Stanley MaxSteel Multi-Angle Bench Vice

This light duty vice rotates in all angles around the ball joint we see protruding at the right. This means you can clamp the whole vice either horizontally or vertically, then angle the 3 in jaws as you choose.

This has been very handy for any number of small projects!


SE MZ101B Helping Hand

This doohickey has a weighted base, and all the parts slide and lock.

It's been especially useful for soldering wire and electrical components. Definitely a friend  in need when trying to juggle a soldering iron, flux, the wire and whatever fitting we're trying to make as one.


I couldn't find the artist to credit for this great drawing!

This bar clamp works by setting up wedge pressure at the variable end against a block fixed at the far end.

Our first workbench featured this system, cut in half. The far end was bolted under our work surface with the variable end protruding. The bench edge acted as the fixed block. In actual fact, the 'variable' end, in our case, was fixed at an angle that matched the wedge (block and wedge cut from a wide, 2x plank).


Pallet WorkBench

Our Q&D mentor turned us on to workbenches made from pallets. Any number can be joined by sliding 2x4 stock longitudinally between the slats before adding legs to any comfortable height. Two or three usually does the trick. Can usually find them free for the asking.

It's easy to clamp, anywhere, and circular saw cuts into the slats are no big deal (cut clear of nails, though!). Just swap 'em out as necessary. For a solid surface, we find it's easiest to lay down a square of plywood.

While any pallets can be used, look for those with slats of uniform height and check that their longitudinals are undamaged and have good grain.


This is just the tip o' the iceberg!

Try scrolling down these image search returns for DIY clamps. Lots of great ideas out there. Wood and wedge, nut and bolt, even PVC springs!

We don't need most or all of them, by any means, but it's amazing how often an idea tucked away comes in handy, one day.

 Handy, handy!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Riglets: A Look at Promising MicroCruiser Rigs

Sven Yrvind showin' us how it's done!

[NOTE: Sven Yrvind may have more off-shore experience in very small boats than anyone alive. His advice is simple, modular mast/sail units that are easily muscled up or down.]

Set a little sail to catch a little  wind,
To lift the hull and give it wings,
And roll us 'round the bend.

Riglets: A Quick Look at Promising MicroCruiser Rigs

In my book, a sailing MicroCruiser is much more than a DaySailor.

It's got to be able to stand up to some shit. It should provide shelter from the elements and sleep its crew aboard. It should carry supplies for a cruise. Human auxiliary propulsion.

So its rig must be handy.

Handy to set and strike. Handy to handle. Handy to reef. Handy to DIY.

Dropping the mast to the deck reduces windage for rowing... free-standing is a plus. Easy handling, especially 'hands-off' from the cockpit via lines, makes for easy, trouble-free sailing, Easy reefing means we can reduce power quickly when ambushed by the wind. DIY 'cuz we're cheap.

'Course, we might be tempted to give a little, one way or the other...

Many traditional western rigs - 'Marconi', sprit, lug, and gaff among others - get lots of coverage. But they present challenges for the microcruiser, as well. To address them, a number of lesser known rigs have been tried. While they, too, need careful implementation and adaptation, each offers a 'new' approach to practical sail.

In what follows, I'll give a very brief description with a pic... the headers and high-lit text are links to further information.

So let's go take a look at some contendahs!

New Haven sharpie drawing

Imagine these cut-off sails are LOM!

Attribution: Barbetorte, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>,
via Wikimedia Commons

A standard LOM, often laced to the sail, with a sprit boom extending forward from the clew and tensioned by a 'snotter' at the mast. It allows adjusting the sail's 'belly' and is self-vanging. The inboard end may be used as a lever in the manner of a sail tiller. Variants include wish-bone booms, possibly with 'baskets'. The booms are low and easy to handle.

This rig is common in sharpies, and favored by Phil Bolger and used in many of his designs. Wishbone variants were common in the line of NONSUCH Catboats

An uncommon option we've used extensively is eliminating a running halyard. The peak is fixed near the mast-head, as is a line running downward to a cleat near the partners. This line is used to spiral wrap the boom (brought vertical) and sail when furled.

This one is perhaps the traditional rig to beat.


Image from Horizon Sails

This is a quadrilateral sail with its peak spread by a sprit rising diagonally from a snotter low on the mast. It may also incorporate a sprit-boom in the manner described in the previous entry. It has the advantage of spreading more sail area on a short mast than LOMs can manage.

These are powerful and, once mastered,  handy rig used by many traditional, sailing fisherfolk, especially in the Occident.

Sven Yrvind has rigged many of his vessels with one or two of this type.


Perry Phillip's BOBBER
Junk Rig

Fully battened, standing lug rig with lazy jacks, sheeted along leech. Hands off, easy reefing. Ingenuity required  for easy set up and take down. Countless variations. I sing its praises here.



A fully battened sail luff-mounted on a short mast and sliding gunter. Similar to Junk rig in shape, it can be adapted for JR's easy reefing with light lazyjacks and batten led sheets.

This rig was used by Frederick Fenger on his YAKABOO, canoe sailing the Caribbean in the early 1900s.


Matt Layden's Lug Rig

Layden Lug

Standing lug rig, roller-furled on the boom. Hands off (though gotta be deft with halyard, sheet and furling line). Boom is easily dismounted and lowered to deck. VERY well proven small boat rig!

This rig was designed well-tested by Matt Layden in designs such as his PARADOX.

More info at


This is a taller version than likely for our needs

Ljungstrom Rig

Twin, flat-cut, triangular sails, fixed along the mast. Open wing and wing with two sheets, or sail into the wind doubled and sheeted as one. Roller reef by rotating the mast. Typically boomless.

The rig was designed for catamarans by Frederick Ljungstrom after his son was tragically lost overboard after being struck by a boom.

The BSD Twins are an interesting, boomed variant for smaller craft.


Shown about half reef

Holopuni Quick Rig

This loose-footed, Leg O' Mutton sail roller reefs around the free-standing mast, while the light boom spreads the sail. It's travelling clew outhaul doubles as sheet landing on the boom... both move toward the mast as the sail is reefed.

Note that this could easily be implemented as a half-Ljungstrom!


Illustration may be from one of Daniel Spurr's great books?
Fully implemented, this would be the main.

Stays'l Rig (aka Delta Rig)

Mast stepped well aft, flying large single or double staysail. Roller furling may be used. The LOM 'mainsail'(?) 

Aft placement is handy to the cockpit. Roller furled staysail provides clear air for the leading edge and develops upward lift as well as forward drive. Lies well to anchor. Must be strongly tensioned for windward efficiency. I'd lean the mast aft with amsteel stays set running.

Wharram TIKI 21
Jib optional

  Wharram Wingsail

A short spar gaff sail with an 'envelope' around mast and halyards, reducing turbulence. Can be used with or without a boom.

The short gaff sail was often used in Herreschof designs. James Wharram (and Hanneke Boon?) pioneered the envelope.


T-Modified Crab Claw Rig

This is essentially a Crab Claw Sail set on a short mast with a swiveling yard. Rotates around three axies (vs the normal one)! Very versatile, and possibly a good-to-great rig.

Unfortunately, it demands a lot from a monohull crew in terms of a steep learning curve. Although it holds promise, I can't recommend it as a serious microcruiser rig without further evidence that it's manageable.

Holopuni Canoes refers to this rig as HSS Rig... haven't heard back from them with the inventor.


Transition Rig

Rig based on a bird's wing! Stretch fabric and bone joints allow 'reefing' by extension and flexion. Folds down as a wing folds in. Really. Check it out! Not as low-tech as some, but...

I wouldn't say this one is ready for our needs. But definitely one to watch!

This genius rig was developed by Richard Dryden.  


So there's a quick tour of some rigs a little off the beaten path.

Hotbeds of innovation include,,,

There's a whole world of sailing out there...

Fair winds!